Gov. Rick Snyder stabs the heart of labor

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Doug Barnes, of St. Johns, Michigan and a UAW member for the past 31 years, stands near the steps of the state Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, joining thousands of protesters to protest the signing of the right-to-work bill by Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday, December 11, 2012. (Eric Seals/Detroit Free Press/MCT)

My previous column on Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan, a Republican, was adulatory.

I have been pleased that he reformed the state’s corporate income tax. He resolved the $1.5 billion deficit former Gov. Jennifer Graholm left behind and added money to the reserve fund.

But, I am still hesitant to say that I will support Snyder for a second term. Unemployment has started to rise in the state, and data from the Economic Policy Institute shows Michigan has the highest unemployment rate for black Americans in the country.

As a black American, that is a concern for me. Moreover, as I previously wrote in “Snyder can’t claim to be moderate,” Snyder lost much of his veneer when he decided to pursue right-to-work laws in Michigan in a somewhat undemocratic way.

“One of our boldest changes is that Michigan will be a freedom-to-work state by April 1, 2013,” wrote Snyder in an opinion piece for Forbes magazine in 2012.

The move was bold, and it was also a betrayal. “Michigan businesses will realize greater efficiency and higher potential profits while partnering with a world-class workforce that will be free to decide whether union membership is right for them,” Snyder continued to write.

Not only has it been the law that employees cannot be forced to join a union since the 1940s, there is no evidence that right-to-work laws boost employment.

In fact, data from the EPI shows that workers in states with right-to-work laws are typically compensated less than other workers in states without such laws.

Snyder stabbed the heart of labor.

Even if you find the excuse that he was finally pressured by the ultraconservative elements of his party at all convincing, it is not a comfort. I wonder about Snyder’s second term.

What does he plan to do?

If there are further opportunities for more strictly conservative state Republicans to push him in an undesirable direction then I cannot vote for Snyder. I do not want Michigan to become North Carolina. North Carolinians went to the polls in 2012 and casted votes in majority for Pat McCrory, a moderate Republican – supposedly.

Like Snyder, Gov. McCrory promised voters he would not pursue a certain policy, and then did the opposite. Citizens were frustrated, but because the state Legislature was also controlled by Republicans, there was no check or balance.

My vote cannot rest on the belief that Democrats will win control of the state Legislature in 2014. I can’t vote for Snyder if I am concerned that the more conservative factions in his party will move him to enact policies which he did not run on and I do not approve of.

Mark Schauer, the most likely Democratic nominee for the governorship next year does not have much of a record to examine. He served one term in the House of Representatives. He voted for the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

He is the liberal alternative to Snyder. However if he turns out to be a poor candidate, with many criticisms of his opponent, yet few ideas (like Virg Bernero was in 2010) he will not earn my vote either.


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